July 28, 2008

Blessed John Soreth (Priest)

1394-1471 – Optional Memorial - July 28

John Soreth was born near Caen in Normandy in 1394 and entered the Carmelite house there. Ordained priest around 1417, he became a doctor of theology in Paris in 1438 and then regent of studies there. He was Provincial of the French Province from 1440-1451 and Prior General of the Order from 1451 until his death.

Blessed John Soreth was persistent in his efforts at renewal, during what was an especially critical period for both the Church and the Order. He stressed the obligations of poverty, solitude, and fidelity to the religious vows. He dedicated himself entirely to the reform of the Order, traveling across Europe, making canonical visitations, preaching against abuses and excessive privileges, which were destroying community life and promoting a more faithful observance of religious life both in the older Provinces and convents and in the Mantuan Reformed Congregation. Soreth was a gentle and sympathetic person, quietly urging his men, encouraging them to a more dedicated form of life. But despite his compassion and his vigorous efforts at reform, his admonitions were generally unheeded. He wrote a commentary on the Rule, his Expositio paranetica, and published new revised Constitutions in 1462.

His most enduring accomplishment was the foundation of the Carmelite nuns, and the Carmelite Third Order. His efforts with the Third Order seemed to parallel his work with the Second Order. His rule attempted to follow the broad outlines of the Rule of St. Albert, and there is marked insistence upon his constant theme: continual prayer. He prescribes fast and abstinence for the tertiaries, and obliges them to recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, which could be commuted into a number of Paters and Aves. A unique factor of Soreth's rule, distinguishing it from all other third orders, was the profession of a vow of obedience and a vow of chastity according to one's state of life. Soreth's practice of the two vows for secular members endured throughout the centuries, and today Carmelite tertiaries are the only Third Order secular members in the Church who pronounce vows.

He died at Angers on the July 25th, 1471 and the Carmelite, Baptist Spagnoli, the famous humanist, wrote a funeral song for him. He is called blessed and Pope Pius IX officially recognized his religious group in 1866. His feast is celebrated on July 28th.


  1. Bless John Soreth!!!

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